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General Information about The Republic of Karelia

The Republic of Karelia is situated in the northwest of Russia and is included in The Northern Economic Region of the Russian Federation. The area of Karelia is 180.5 thousand square kilometers (1.06% of the total territory of Russia). The territory of the republic stretches out from north to south for 660 km. The extension from the west to the east in the latitude of the city of Kemi is 424 km.
In the west Karelia borders upon Finland, in the south – upon Leningradskaja and Vologodskaja regions, in the north – upon Murmanskaja and in the east – upon Arkhangelskaja regions. In the northwest the republic is washed by the White Sea. The western border of Karelia coincides with the frontier of the Russian Federation and its length is 723 km.

The population of Republic of Karelia is 766.4 thousand people. Urban population amounts to 74.1 per cent (567.9 thousand people), rural population to 25.9 per cent (198.5 thousand people). A third of the population lives in the capital city of the republic - Petrozavodsk. The density of the population of Karelia is 4.4 people per a square kilometer.

The average age of the population is 36.5 years old. The number of able-bodied citizens is 471.3 thousand people, the number of retired – 215 thousand people.

The national structure of the population is the following: the Russians – 73.6 per cent, the Karelians – 10 per cent, the Belorussians – 7 per cent, the Ukrainians – 3.6 per cent, the Finns – 2.3 per cent, the Vepps – 0.8 per cent.

The republic includes 19 self-governing territories and 808 settlements. Each self-governing territory is headed by a mayor, who is elected according to the Constitution of Karelia through direct secret voting. There are 3 cities of republican significance in Karelia (Petrozavodsk – 282.9 thousand people, Kostomuksha – 32.5 thousand people, Sortavala – 20.2 thousand of people, 4 districts of republican significance ( Kemskiy , Kondopozhskiy , Pitkjarantskiy and Segezhskii regions), 11 regions (including one national region), 1 volost and 11 urban-type settlements.

The most part of the territory of the republic is an undulating plain with pronounced traces of glacier activity. The wavy surface of the land still keeps the traces of the ancient mountains. Karelia is often called a “stony lake-forest land”, which stresses the main elements of the landscape.

More than 49 per cent of the area is covered with forests (the main species are pine-tree and fir-tree), 25 per cent is water surface. There are more than 60 thousand lakes and 27 thousand rivers in Karelia. The largest are Ladoga lake (17.7 thousand sq.km.) and Onego lake (9.9 thousand sq. km.). The largest rivers are Vodla (400 km), Vyg, Kovda, Kemi, Suna and Shuja. The total length of the water chain is almost 83 thousand km.

More than 50 kinds of minerals are found in Karelia. The minerals are: iron ore, vanadium, molybdenum, rare metals, diamonds, mica, construction materials (granite, marble, diabase), clay, appatit-carbonate ore and asbestos.

The Republic of Karelia has a favourable economic and geographic location and huge mineral reserves. It is close to the central high-industrialized regions of Russia and Western Europe. It also has a developed water-transport system.

The place of Karelia in the industrial complex of the Russian Federation is defined by the industries using local natural resources (timber, woodworking, pulp and paper, ferrous metallurgy and construction materials industries) and by the industries using imported stuff - mechanical engineering and non-ferrous metallurgy. The republic makes 9,2% of the total amount of iron ore mined in the Russian Federation, 21,5% of the total amount of paper, 7,3% - of pulp, 7,3% - of industrial wood, 4% of saw log, and about 60% of paper bags. Tourism is also one of the priority trades. It gets more and more importance in the development of the whole economic potential of the republic.

The Republic of Karelia has great opportunities for developing different types of tourism: hunting and fishing, guesthouses, spas during winter and summer season, active rafting on canoes and ecological tourism. Karelia can satisfy the needs of all visitors: more than four thousand cultural, historical and natural monuments are on its territory.

Karelia is one of the most famous Russian territories in international tourism for its unique architectural, cultural and historical objects located on Kizhi, Valaam and Solovetskie islands, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The historical and cultural peculiarity of Karelia, which differs it from the other regions of Russia, is made by the cultural heritage of four indigenous populations of Karelians, Finns, Russians and Vepps. Living together for more than ten centuries they've created a unique and original culture.

Karelia is the place of birth of a famous Karelo-Finnish epos "Kalevala" - a literature monument of world significance. Here ancient Karelian and Vepps settlements, which are of great interest for the fans of ethnic tourism, are still kept protected.

Petroglyphs are more than five thousand years old. These are rock carvings created by ancient hunters and fishermen. These are the samples of ancient written language and culture.

Annually in the end of July the largest in Russia Onego regatta of cruiser yachts is held on the Onego lake. It is a national championship on sailing sport. Administrations of the regions of the northwest Russia work together to allow foreign sports vessels to enter the territorial waters of the Russian Federation.

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